For those of you who feel you can't come up with a single original idea, relax. It's probably been done. But don't worry. Inspiration is nothing more than stealing like an artist. Go check out Austin Kleon's post: Steal Like an Artist. Really.
To the lovely ready who commented she liked the i in the Make it Work quilt, I have to confess, I was inspired by this piece that hangs in my studio:
Lucinda made it for me. I was one of the Swap Mamas for Doll Quilt Swap 9, and Lucinda made each of the Mamas a lovely chair quilt, personalized just for them. Mine had to have letters. What to fit in this tiny space? A small word, but she did it magnificently. This little quilt is 7-1/2" wide by 15" tall, and the letters are small - the S is barely 2" high.
I look at this little beauty every day. I like the way Lucinda made her letters - totally unlike anything I would do.
You should check Lucinda's blog as well as her Flickr photostream - she is an artist at free piecing - very adventurous and creative. She is truly inspiring.
I've finished the "Make it work!" quilt top. It's 24" (61 cm) tall by 25" (63.5 cm) wide. As you can see, I made some modifications. The M is quite large, and visually heavy. I didn't mind that, as it needed that to emphasize it's importance as the first letter in the phrase.But the "w" and "o" were also visually heavy. I couldn't place the "w" on the same left edge as the "M" because the "M" and "w" would make the design unbalanced. Even sliding the word "work" over to the right didn't completely resolve that problem.So I trimmed the "w" a bit, first in the middle, then on the left, and I also made the letter "o" skinnier. I removed the cool yellow strip of fabric just above the "w" because I felt it drew your eye away.
The placement of the word "it" was rather tricky. It isn't quite in the center, because I didn't want the vertical of the "t" to line up too perfectly with the upright of the letter "k" in the row above. Your eye would connect those two verticals and create a very strong vertical line and I didn't want that. Also, if it -was- centered, then the word "work" below it would have to be centered, and then the three uprights would almost line up and divide the piece in half vertically.
I liked the tall "k" in work, and wanted to keep it, but if there was too much space underneath the word "it" and the word "work" below it, the two words wouldn't connect visually at all.I moved "work" slightly over to the right. I also wanted to create a bit of visual tension and interest and I didn't want the design to be too static. Working with words, I believe readability is very important. If I had wanted the piece to be primarily a graphic design, and the phrase a secondary element, I might have arranged them differently, but this piece is all about the phrase "Make it work!" so the letters had to be easy to read as words. (View from this morning... I might add a bit of yellow to the left edge, as it seems a bit cramped over there. I'll have to look at it for a while to be sure, and I'm not sure if "it" shouldn't be moved over to the left a bit...)
I've got all the elements of the "Make it work!" quilt ready to sew together. Here are a couple of how-to photos for the "k". You can click the photos to enlarge.The phrase really needed an exclamation point at the end.ta-da!
Can I have an O? Can't be that hard, right? A center block, then four strips around it like a log cabin block? Not too difficult, not too much to ask, right?
Apparently not if you're me, and you simply MUST go through EVERY single box or bin of leftover fabric scraps looking for JUST the RIGHT fabrics to play a new game together. So here it is. In the end, I was pretty pleased with the result. It will be trimmed, and it will not sit on the same baseline as the "w". You can click the photos to enlarge.
I had fun playing with the i in "it" for the "Make it work" quilt. I was so preoccupied getting the W to look "right" that I forgot to make it a little bit silly.But I love the free pieced letter W, so it's staying put. For now.
If you've ever made free-pieced letters, you know how it is. You get started, and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose, and you just can't stop.
Last night, I got home and wasn't really interested in making dinner right away, so I made the "k." After dinner I made the "e." The letters aren't sewn together yet.
Those of you with eagle eyes will notice the "M" has been changed too. As soon as I put it up on the wall the day I made it, I knew that plum colored area on the left leg attracted too much attention. It had too much contrast; your eye went right to it - and stayed there. It was a big hole, and it had to go. I was kinda hoping it would go away on it's own, but you know how that works.So I fixed it. Here's the original, for comparison.
I should have been more specific yesterday, when I said the "Make it work" quilt was coming only from fabrics in my stash.
Big deal! We all have stashes big enough to make several quilts. I will make the letters -only- from fabric scraps in my little bins. I keep all my little bits from the quilts I make. Partly because I'm cheap, but mostly because I have learned (through the "make it work" ethic) the value of keeping these little bits. I will allow myself to use my "regular stash" for the yellow for the background, and the backing and binding for the quilt when it is finished.
With that said, here is the "a."
Oh, and since my pal Julie says my letters are very precise and planned... another self-imposed rule for this quilt... no drawing letters in advance. Just cut and sew.
You can go read about it to find out more, but reactions from many readers about how I worked my way through the white rules quilt really got me to thinking. I changed directions several times while making that quilt, but I never gave up. I never put it aside, never started over. I was amazed that several readers congratulated my tenacity.
What was I supposed to do? Throw it all away? Not me. I had given myself a challenge, and my goal was to meet it. I had put a lot of work into it, and a lot of it was good. I wasn't going to quit.
Gunn writes, "Making it work means finding a solution to a dilemma..."
To make it work you have to figure out what the problems are, and find a solution using the skills you've learned and the materials you have. When you've made it work, you realize that you have the ability to solve the problem, and it gives you confidence to take on other challenges.
So my next lettered quilt will be a small one, an homage to Tim Gunn. It will say...
Make it work!
I have to figure out how to do that.
I've decided to use upper and lower case letters. I've decided I don't want the letters lined up perfectly on their baselines, and I want the letters to be made of more than one fabric. I've decided the background should be yellow. Most importantly, this quilt can only use fabrics that are in my stash.Here's the first letter. I always make my letters big so I can trim them down if needed. This M won't be either as tall or as wide as it is right now.
My quilt, The Quick Brown Fox, is on display at the Quilted Threads quilt shop in Henniker NH. It's nice to be able to see the quilt from a distance in a well-lit space. The colors really glow, and the quilting really shows up.I forget, sometimes, how unique my quilts are.